What Are Wisdom Teeth?
The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and enter the mouth. Normally this happens between the ages of 17 and 25. If the wisdom teeth are healthy, painless, functional, and have enough room to grow properly, they can usually remain in the mouth as long as they are managed with professional cleanings, annual exams and periodic X-rays.
Problems with the Wisdom Teeth
Unfortunately the wisdom teeth are prone to problems. Most people have at least one wisdom tooth that gets stuck or “impacted” trying to break through the gums. This can happen because of lack of space or the position of the tooth.
Impacted wisdom teeth can develop cavities and cause pain and discomfort; they can also damage the neighboring teeth. The gum tissue around the area of the impacted wisdom tooth can become swollen and develop gum disease.
Should these symptoms or complications occur, Dr. Lance Porter recommends the removal of the wisdom teeth. He performs simple extractions in the office; more complex extractions may require a referral to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
How Do I Know if I Need a Wisdom Tooth Removed?
It may be necessary to remove one of your wisdom teeth if one or more of the following is true:
- The tooth causes you pain or discomfort.
- Food or other debris gets trapped behind the tooth.
- The tooth doesn’t have enough room to emerge from the gums.
- The gum tissue around the wisdom tooth is inflamed or infected.
- The wisdom tooth has developed decay.
- The wisdom tooth is damaging the surrounding teeth.
- A cyst has formed around the tooth.
- The tooth is causing problems with crowding the other teeth, or interfering with orthodontic treatment to straighten the rest of the teeth.
Other factors such as your age, the position of the tooth and the shape of your mouth influence whether Dr. Porter recommends wisdom tooth removal.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction: What to Expect
Wisdom tooth removal is performed on an outpatient basis so you can go home the same day.
To begin, Dr. Porter administers local anesthesia to completely numb the extraction site. You should not feel any pain during the procedure. You may also receive sedation medication to put you into a more relaxed and comfortable state. The medication will leave you with little to no memory of your procedure.
Dr. Porter creates an incision in the gums to access the wisdom tooth and supporting bone. He may separate the tooth into sections to make it easier to remove. After removing the tooth, Dr. Porter also removes any remaining debris from the tooth or bone and cleans the extraction site. To complete the procedure, he sutures or stitches the incision closed. Gauze is placed over the extraction site to help control the bleeding.
Tooth Extraction Recovery
Dr. Porter and our team provide complete aftercare instructions including guidelines for managing pain, bleeding, swelling, bruising and any other aftereffects. You can resume most of your normal activities the day after treatment, as long as you avoid any strenuous activities for approximately one week. You should eat a soft-foods-only diet for about 24 hours after your procedure.